STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Pennsylvania’s farmers are meeting the mandatory nutrient reduction targets they are required to make under the state’s Chesapeake Bay Compliance Plan, said Environmental Protection Deputy Secretary Cathleen Curran Myers during the State Conservation Commission’s winter meeting.
“Pennsylvania’s Chesapeake Bay Compliance Plan requires 25 million pounds of nutrient reduction from our farmlands — nearly five times the reduction required of our sewage treatment plants,” said Myers.
“Our farmers are rising to that challenge, laying claim to more than half of all the nitrogen reductions made by farmers anywhere in the multistate watershed thus far.”
According to Myers, agriculture, collectively, is the largest contributor of nutrients to Pennsylvania’s bay tributaries. The more than 40,000 Pennsylvania farms located within the watershed discharge 46 percent of the nitrogen and 58 percent of the phosphorus into these waterways and, consequently, farmers today face more stringent water quality requirements.
The state’s laws require best management practices on larger Pennsylvania farms.
Stronger regulations have expanded the number of concentrated animal feeding operations from 165 to 350. They are required to obtain permits that reduce nutrients and sediment flowing into local waterways.
With these changes, more than 5,000 farms will have full nutrient management plans, as well as stream setbacks or buffers, increasing the number of highly regulated farms in Pennsylvania by 600 percent.
“Farmers are stepping up and taking advantage of the cost effective options available to meet their Chesapeake Bay obligations.”
Cathleen Curran Myers
Pennsylvania Environmental Protection deputy secretary
“Farmers are stepping up and taking advantage of the cost effective options available to meet their Chesapeake Bay obligations,” said Myers.
“In the past few years, Pennsylvania’s farmers made our Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program the largest in the country. Now they are exhibiting their willingness to invest in conservation measures and clean water as evidenced by the $10 million in REAP (Resource Enhancement and Protection) requests received to date.”
Myers pointed to the number of applications received for the new Resource Enhancement and Protection Program. The State Conservation Commission began accepting applications on a first-come, first-served basis Jan. 2.
With an average 50 percent tax credit, this represents an additional $10 million from farmer’s pockets to make these watershed investments. More than 230 applications have been received by the State Conservation Commission.
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